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Black Boy

Black Boy

by Richard Wright

Richard Wright (Dick) Timeline and Summary

  • Richard is a toddler-sized pyromaniac, and he burns down his house when he is just four years old.
  • After nearly dying, his family moves to Memphis. Richard is not too happy about it, but he’s probably lost his say in the family fortunes after his last big goof.
  • Richard figures out that he’s hungry, but he doesn’t know why. Turns out, Richard’s dad has gone AWOL, so his mom has to start working because they have no food.
  • Aww, it’s Richard’s first fight! His mom makes him stand up to the bullies who steal his grocery money. Little does she know that she’s created a fighting monster.
  • Unsupervised kids get into trouble, especially when they wander into bars full of drunk dudes looking for some cheap fun. Pretty soon, Richard is a six-year-old alcoholic. They grow up so fast.
  • When Momma Wright gets sick and can’t work, Richard and his brother end up in an orphanage. As usual, this doesn’t end well.
  • The family moves to Arkansas to live with Aunt Maggie. On the way, they visit Granny, where Richard hears his first story and becomes a lifelong literature fan boy.
  • Aunt Maggie’s house is awesome. It’s got all the food you can eat, and life is sweet—until Richard’s uncle is shot and they have to flee.
  • Later, Richard gets a new "uncle," but that doesn’t last long. "Uncle" runs away to the North, taking Aunt Maggie with him.
  • Richard’s mother ends up paralyzed after a stroke. Aunties and uncles take care of the kids, and Richard bunks down with super strict Aunt Jody and Uncle Clark.
  • One day when he’s supposed to be praying, Richard writes his first story ever. He shows it to a girl and pretends that he is a laid-back kind of guy who does these things all the time. No biggie.
  • Richard publishes his first story, and you’d think his family would be proud. You’d be wrong.
  • Check it out! Richard is the valedictorian of his school. It’s not really a moment of glory, because the principal gets super mad that Richard doesn’t want to read the speech the principal wrote for him.
  • After lying, cheating, and stealing, Richard finally moves out of Jackson to Memphis.
  • Richard borrows a library card and stumbles into a whole world of literature that he didn’t even know existed. He walks around with stars in his eyes for weeks.
  • Because Aunt Maggie’s new husband left her, Richard and his family are finally able to move to Chicago. Watch out, big city.
  • When the Great Depression hits, all the cool things Richard has been doing—working at a post office, reading newspapers, living in a sweet apartment—come to a screeching halt.
  • Richard joins the Communist party. This is… a bad idea. After some infighting, he leaves.
  • Richard resolves to become a great writer.
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